Although the Twin Cities are packed with artsy activities—from the Guthrie Theater to the Frank Gehry-designed Weisman Art Museum—there are few independently owned boutique hotels, which makes The Commons Hotel's June debut long overdue.
Tucked into the University of Minnesota campus, the new 304-room hotel sports industrial-schoolhouse chic. Its location in University District means the hotel is in perfect pitch with innovative learning opportunities while on vacation. The Loft Literary Center nearby hosts writing classes as well as author readings. Also nearby is Aveda Institute's headquarters for a supremely discounted head-to-toe makeover. A Sudoku puzzle is thoughtfully included with room-service breakfast. Need a good book? The hotel's book butler is ready to advise on all things literature (and has titles on hand).
Each room is decked out with argyle wallpaper, brown-leather headboards, blue-green and pinstriped bed pillows, and taupe headboards. An iHome clock radio, free WiFi, single-cup coffee maker with Starbucks coffee, a small refrigerator, and a rainforest shower-head are welcome comforts while away from home.
At Beacon Public House is an ode to Minnesota, such as forest scenes above the bar, striped wood flooring, and a focus on food from local farms. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily, plus weekend brunch, the menu features gastropub fare, small plates with a Latin twist, classic cocktails, and comfort foods. Examples range from "not so common" bangers and mash (farm sausage and horseradish mash) to Stickney Hills goat cheese panna cotta drizzled with local honey. A 45-minute express lunch costs $15 and promises to get you out the door fast, perfect for restless sightseers. Visit during happy hour and get more than a drink deal: retro bingo and "words with friends" stretch your brain while you imbibe.
A trio of fun packages welcomes guests to the hotel, including Family Game Night, which includes accommodations, unlimited movies, choice of two board games, snack pack of movie-theater-type snacks, and complimentary parking.
Kristine Hansen is a freelance writer based in Milwaukee where she reports on food, wine, and travel topics around the globe for Fodors.com, along with new-hotel openings. She also writes for Wine Enthusiast, TIME, Whole Living and American Way. In 2006 she co-authored The Complete Idiot's Guide to Coffee and Tea (Alpha Books/Penguin). You can follow her on Twitter @kristineahansen or through her web site.
Photos courtesy of The Commons Hotel